Christmas Culinary Tradition: Cartellate Pastries from Puglia

February 2, 2021  |  By Liz SanFilippo Hall
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Cartellate pastries on a culinary tour of PugliaWhat are cartellate?

Cartellate cookies are a type of wine cookie that hails from the Puglia region. A wine cookie is, simply put, a cookie that uses wine as the main liquid ingredient. This type of cookie abounds in Italy, where they pair wonderfully with the local wines and dessert wines.

Contemplating the countryside of Puglia on a culinary tour of ItalyCartellate pugliesi can be found on every holiday table in Puglia during the Christmas season, and every family has its own way of preparing them, although the basic steps remain the same.

Try our recipe for Cartellate.

One thing all cartellate recipes have in common is that the original recipe originated with the Greeks who brought their own version of the pastry over. In Italy, the recipe evolved, mainly due to Christianity, and became an offering to the baby Jesus and the Virgin Mary at Christmastime. Today, the design of the delicate pastry looks like ribbons, which is said to symbolize the crown of thorns or, according to some, the Baby Jesus’s swaddling clothes.

Check out our trips to the amazing region of Puglia, Italy.

Rolling dough on a table during a cooking class in ItalyAll cartellate are made with flour and, of course, some sugar. Some recipes, like the one from Chef Rita of our cooking vacation “Discovering Puglia” calls for extra virgin olive oil. The toppings and decorations vary from family to family, but, as with Chef Rita’s cartellate recipe, honey (or grape syrup), cinnamon powder, and more white wine are all popular components.

Check out another holiday recipe for Easter fiadonetti!

Kneading dough during a culinary vacation with TIKTo make this Christmas treat, roll out very thin strips of dough (after all, the Italian word ‘carta’ translates to paper), and form the dough into the shape of a flower. After they’re fried, they’ll also be very dry, otherwise they could very easily fall apart. If the finished pastry isn’t already loaded with sweet toppings, some families dunk the fried dough pastry into a wine syrup called vincotto. Alternatively, they can be dunked into honey.

However you enjoy them, cartellate are a tasty Christmas treat in Italy, and one that we can recreate here in the United States to celebrate the holiday as well!

Learn more about the amazing region of Puglia, Italy.

Sweet fried Abruzzese ravioli on a cooking vacation in ItalyAre you looking for more amazing Christmas recipes from Italy? Try our recipes for:

And of course contact us to start planning your trip to Puglia!

By Liz Hall

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